Clean Air  

BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE ~ PO Box 88 Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:

March 12, 2002

Ms. Valeria V. Willing, Division of Engineering Services
Bureau of Air Quality
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, South Carolina, 29201

Re: Part 70 Air Quality Permit Number: TV-1860-0038
Georgia-Pacific Corporation - Holly Hill, South Carolina Fiberboard Plant

Dear Ms. Willing:

On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, I write to comment on the draft Title V permit for Georgia-Pacific Corporation - Holly Hill and to request that the Bureau of Air Quality extend the public comment period for 30 days before issuing this permit.


Title V permits are meant to reduce confusion by including all applicable requirements that apply to a given source. The operating permit program is designed to define compliance, not just applicable standards. The permit must list all applicable requirements including monitoring, methods of testing, semi-annual reporting, and annual compliance certification. Compliance is determined by monitoring conditions with respect to an associated standard. If there is no federal standard for monitoring requirements, averaging times, or record keeping, Title V directs the state to determine them. This monitoring provision allows the state, the operator, and the public to know if the facility is in compliance with emission standards. According to the US EPA OAQP&S, “In effect, title V makes compliance a matter of corporate responsibility.”

Although we are still waiting for additional documents from the DHEC regarding the Georgia-Pacific Title V permit, at this point we believe that the draft permit’s compliance with federal standards depends on a 1996 consent decree between US EPA and Georgia-Pacific. By its very definition, a consent order means non-compliance. Moreover, the requirement of official review to determine prevention of significant deterioration simply cannot be avoided. PSD Review must precede Title V permitting in this matter. Since the Title V permit must assure compliance, at this point we believe that this proposed permit is not federally enforceable.

Our staff has been invited to Holly Hill to review in person the multiple air pollution sources which have been permitted by DHEC. In alliance with CORE (Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment), we are concerned about the multiple and synergistic health impacts.


Control of Visible Emissions - 61-62.5 Standard No.1, Section I

Opacity limits are based on the date of manufacture. The draft permit does not record a date of construction for the Holly Hill facility. Facilities made before July 1, 1971 must not exceed 40% opacity; more recently manufactured plants are limited to 20% opacity. In any case, the permit must state the basis for this limit.

Emission Unit Requirements - 61-62.5 Standard No. 7

The permit (excerpt below) states that the weekly and monthly production limits are based on a consent decree.

PERMIT 5.E.5. Per the Consent Decree between the US EPA and Georgia-Pacific Corporation dated July 18, 1996, the facility will limit monthly production to 12.31 million SF (3/4" basis) for five-week months and 9.85 million SF (3/4" basis) for four-week months. The plant shall be limited to a weekly production rate of 2.8 million SF (3/4" basis). This limit was set to avoid a PSD review for the installation of the two (2) flash tube dryer

The state cannot permit non-compliance; the avoidance of PSD is an insufficient basis upon which to determine the production limits, and is unenforceable as a practical matter.

We plan to submit additional comments.

Respectfully submitted,

Louis A. Zeller
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE ~ PO Box 88 Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:

April 11, 2002

James A. Joy III, Bureau Chief
Bureau of Air Quality
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Re: Part 70 Air Quality Permit No. TV-1860-0038
Georgia-Pacific Corporation-Holly Hill, South Carolina Fiberboard Plant

Dear Mr. Joy:

On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, I write to provide further comments on the draft Title V permit for Georgia-Pacific Corporation’s Holly Hill plant. These remarks are in addition to our comments submitted March 12, 2002. Allow me to begin by thanking you for extending the public comment period for this permit. We have used this additional time to gain access to documents necessary for a more complete understanding of the permit and the fiberboard plant.

As you know, in November 1996 the US EPA entered into a consent decree which settled its “long-running dispute with Georgia-Pacific regarding PSD violations.” The EPA said that the company had failed to obtain permits for major modifications at 18 facilities, including the Holly Hill MDF plant, causing significant amounts of volatile organic compounds to be emitted without pollution controls. Georgia-Pacific (G-P) paid a civil penalty of $6 million for violations of the Clean Air Act which occurred in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

For the G-P facility in Holly Hill, the consequences of this consent decree are 1) weekly and monthly production limits for medium density fiberboard and 2) a Clean Air Act audit.

Production Limits

The draft permit Part 6.B.5 sets maximum monthly and weekly production rates for medium density fiberboard (MDF) for the purpose of avoiding major source thresholds embodied in the Clean Air Act. Avoidance of PSD review and other requirements via production limits in the permit may comply with consent decree instructions, but assurance of regulatory compliance and questions of enforceability require more. The consent decree resolves the United States’ claims against the company, but the agreement is the result of a compromise in which both parties settle for less than what they want. But a Title V permit granted by South Carolina must comply with 100% of DHEC and EPA regulations; therefore, the state can and should go beyond the baseline suggested by the consent decree signed by Georgia-Pacific and the Department of Justice. To be considered federally enforceable, Title V permit conditions must be based on federal law or the state SIP. Further, permit terms and conditions must be practicably enforceable to be considered federally enforceable.

The G-P Holly Hill plant has the potential to emit 397.7 tons per year of volatile organic compounds; it is a major source and must undergo PSD revue. The draft permit states: “Air dispersion modeling (or other method) has demonstrated that this facility’s operation will not interfere with the attainment and maintenance of any state or federal standard.” (Draft Permit Section 4.B.2) However, the EPA’s AP-42 Emissions Factors for MDF plant are not finalized making DHEC’s computer modeling which depends on them an unreliable predictor of pollution levels. Although computer modeling may be useful when permitting a new facility which has no track record, operating plants have specific emissions data which are more reliable than computer simulations. Tests of ambient levels of pollution will also help determine compliance with NAAQS. Georgia-Pacific should be required to do a more comprehensive analysis of the impact of its Holly Hill plant on public health.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are hazardous to human health. In the atmosphere VOCs react with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, or smog, which damages the lungs. Children and adults with asthma, lung disease, and heart disease are most vulnerable, but even healthy adults are affected when ozone levels are high. To assure regulatory compliance and protect public health recordkeeping and reporting must include more than the total number of square feet of MDF produced. To limit VOC emissions, DHEC should require G-P to record and report 1) monthly consumption of all materials used containing VOCs. These records would include the VOC and/or individual HAP content of each material; 2) total VOC and individual HAP emissions on a monthly basis; 3) annual inventories of VOC totals and total VOC emissions for the previous year. These data should be compiled in a rolling average.

The plant must comply with air quality regulations at all times. To assure compliance the state may go beyond minimum requirements. The consent decree does not limit the state’s power or foreclose this type of action.

Clean Air Act Audit

In addition to production limits, the 1996 Consent Decree established an environmental audit process at the Holly Hill plant to remedy existing problems and to prevent their re-occurrence. The consent decree between US EPA and Georgia-Pacific (G-P) states:

G-P has submitted to the United States for review a summary description of its
environmental audit program, including the procedures and protocol, and the
United States has agreed that G-P’s current audit program will satisfy the
requirements of this Part IV.D. of this Consent Decree. (Consent Decree
paragraph 31)

Part IV.D is the section on environmental audits. The audit program evaluates recordkeeping, operations, and pollution controls. The scope of the audits is detailed in paragraph 34 of the consent decree and includes “applicable permit terms and conditions” and “technical issues that affect the ability of the plant to comply with all applicable requirements of the Act, including state and Federal regulations and permit terms and conditions issued pursuant to the Act.” The consent decree is critical to continuous enforcement of state and federal law.

The entire decree must be included in this permit, either by reference or in its entirety, in order for its stipulations to continue to be federally enforceable. Otherwise, pollution reduction measures extant at the beginning of the permit could become less stringent or cease functioning when the consent decree expires.

We request that the information submitted under the consent agreement by Georgia-Pacific’s third party auditor to EPA be submitted to DHEC and that a list of interested parties be notified of all periodic audit reports. The permit must stipulate that the Audit Summary Report required by Consent Decree paragraph 42 not be subject to confidentiality provisions in the state’s environmental audit law. Also, these documents should be made accessible to the residents of Holly Hill at a public place such as a library or town hall. Further, we request that the information be subject to freedom of information and public records laws. The residents of Holly Hill are affected persons who have a direct interest in the operation of the Georgia-Pacific MDF plant. According to EPA guidance documents, the provision for a Clean Air Act Audit is indicated under the following circumstances:

  • A pattern of violations can be attributed, at least in part, to the absence or poor functioning of an environmental management system; or

  • The type or nature of violations indicates a likelihood that similar
    noncompliance problems may exist or occur elsewhere in the facility or at other facilities operated by the regulated entity." 51 Fed. Reg. 25007 (1986). 1

Georgia-Pacific plainly fits the above conditions. Thorough, independent assessment of their environmental compliance would be assisted by an informed public. This would aid state and federal agencies attempts to remedy root causes of noncompliance. Citizens would continue to be watchful long after the consent decree has expired. Routine inspections by a diligent DHEC will never be able to match the ability of people who live within sight of the Holly Hill plant to observe and report on local conditions. EPA’s guidance supports this:

A settlement’s audit requirements may end after the party meets the agreed-upon
schedule for implementing them. Nevertheless, the Agency expects that most
audit programs established through settlements will continue beyond the life of
the settlement. After the settlement expires, the success of those programs may be
monitored indirectly through the routine inspection process. 1

State and federal resources are limited, and the audit process relies on certification by a third party. We cannot rely upon Georgia-Pacific, a repeated violator of NAAQS, to report on its compliance with the law. The fox cannot guard the henhouse.

SC Environmental Audit Privilege

The SC Environmental Audit Privilege law, Title 48 Chapter 57, grants confidentiality and protection from penalties to permit holders in return for self-disclosure of environmental compliance violations. Section 48-57-110 states: “No state or local governmental rule, regulation, guidance, policy, or permit condition may circumvent or limit the privileges established by this chapter or the exercise of the privileges or the presumption and immunity established by this chapter.” However, the state’s audit privilege is not part of the State Implementation Plan and cannot supercede federal provisions for statements of compliance status, for notice of modifications to the facility’s environmental compliance management programs, and/or disclosure of exceedences of applicable permit limits.

The November 1996 consent decree between EPA and G-P states, “This Consent Decree is not a permit; compliance with its terms does not guarantee compliance with all applicable Federal, State, or Local laws or regulations.” (CD paragraph 71) The consent decree does not enlarge the rights of Georgia-Pacific against any third parties including the public.

Rather than improve compliance, the South Carolina environmental audit privilege undermines enforcement of regulations and denies the pubic its right-to-know. Disclosure of information regarding regulatory compliance is vital to the public interest and environmental protection.

The permit should stipulate that the Audit Summary Report required by Consent Decree paragraph 42 not be subject to confidentiality provisions in the state’s environmental audit law.

Clarification Needed

The G-P draft permit lists emission limits and standards at Table 4.1 and shows VOC lists SC 61-62.5 Standard No. 5.1 as a state only requirement. However, the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 52.2126) shows that SC 62.5 is approved:

52.2126 VOC rule deficiency correction.
Sections I and II of South Carolina’s Regulations 62.1 and 62.5 is approved. The State submitted these regulations to EPA for approval on September 18, 1990. Sections I and II of Regulation 62.5 were intended to correct deficiencies cited in a letter calling for the State to revise its SIP for ozone from Mr. Greer C. Tidwell, the EPA Regional Administrator, to Governor Carroll A. Campbell on May 26, 1988, and clarified in a letter from Mr. Winston A. Smith, EPA Region IV, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, to Mr. Otto E. Pearson, former Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: (a) South Carolina’s VOC regulations contain no method for determining capture efficiency. This deficiency must be corrected after EPA publishes guidance on the methods for deter-mining capture efficiency before the SIP for ozone can be fully approved. [57 FR 4161, Feb. 4, 1992, as amended at 59 FR 17937, Apr. 15, 1994]

VOC emissions, regulations, and limitations are central to our concerns for public health in this matter. Please clarify which VOC regulations apply to this facility, which VOC regulations do not apply, and which are state enforceable only. All Title V permits must correctly list applicable regulations and be clearly understandable.

Respectfully submitted,

Louis Zeller

CC: Donna Moye
Valeria Willing
Stuart Latta
Virginia Townsend
John Runkle, Esq.

1Final EPA Policy on the Inclusion of Environmental Auditing Provisions in Enforcement Settlements, Thomas L. Adams, Jr., Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Monitoring, November 14, 1986

More info: Georgia-Pacific Corporation-Holly Hill
Title V Fact Sheet
BREDL comments on other Title V permits